College graduates are often urged in commencement speeches to pursue their passion and live the dream. Workers who do just that — abruptly quit their stifling jobs with six-figure salaries to travel around the world — make the rest of us feel wistful.
For some, though, careers are not meant to serve as dreams realized. Even so, the work can be rewarding and the paycheck fulfilling, leading people to enjoy lifestyles that are very comfortable if not lavish. Click through to see 10 jobs that come with $100,000 paychecks.
Spending years steeped in numbers, spreadsheets and solitary calculations might sound like the definition of tediousness. But for those who enjoy the rationale of basic mathematics and who prefer to work independently rather than as part of a team, accounting can prove to be a lucrative career fit.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 percent of accountants earned roughly $114,000 in 2013. These top earners worked primarily in securities and commodities located in New York City, Newark, N.J., and San Jose, Calif.
2. Information Technology
Sitting in a cubicle, staring at a computer all day might make some people cringe. But skilled IT professionals — programmers, network administrators, database engineers and others — are delighted to take home that six-figure salary.
With demand for skilled technology workers consistently on the rise, job opportunity, security and wage growth seem unlimited in this sector. Salary.com boasts a long list of six-figure IT employment opportunities.
Gastroenterologists might spend much of their time performing routine procedures — think colonoscopy — but the average annual payout is $298,000. In addition to astronomical income levels, Payscale.com reports high levels of job satisfaction among these specialists.
It’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it, and those who do can command six-figure salaries with just a few years of experience. The top 10 percent of master plumbers enjoy an annual average salary of $102,000. No need to rack up college debt either. The majority of plumbers get their training through low-cost community colleges, trade schools and apprenticeships.
5. Technical Writer
As mind-numbing as equipment manuals, operational handbooks and appendices can be as reading materials, writing these informational guides can be a lucrative earnings proposition. According to the BLS, the top 10 percent of technical writers enjoyed an average income of $108,460 in 2014. Some high-paying employers include corporate giants IBM, Amazon and Google.
6. Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers specialize in the safe flow of traffic. They work in control towers, approach control facilities and in route centers to keep aircraft a safe distance from one another. It might not be as exciting as the thrill of flight but the salary is nothing to sneeze at. The BLS reports the median annual pay for air traffic controllers is $122,530.
7. Human Resources Manager
Dealing with other people’s problems, paperwork and the minutia of employee benefit programs provide a surprisingly solid source of income for human resources managers. With a national average salary of $97,808, the potential for six figures is well within reach for these professionals, particularly at corporations with vast employee networks to manage. HR managers are also in demand. Glassdoor put that job on its list of 25 highest-paying jobs in demand, making the prospect of breaking into the field less daunting.
8. Insurance Sales Agent
A job in insurance won't likely be as entertaining as the industry’s advertising icons — think Progressive’s quirky Flo or Geico’s charming gecko — but the practice can still prove quite lucrative for the average Joe. According to the BLS, the top 10 percent of insurance agents made more than $117,830 in 2013.
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Some agents work for insurance companies directly, selling their company’s products exclusively such as auto policies. Some work for independent brokerage firms and sell products from multiple companies. Around 20 percent are self-employed. For most, commissions are a critical source of income.
9. Construction Manager
Overseeing the construction of roads, buildings and other structures might not seem very exciting. But construction managers can earn high six-figure salaries without an expensive college degree. Often dismissed as menial manual labor, construction experience can pave the way to a more lucrative management future. Top earning construction managers can make more than $146,000 per year in metropolitan areas like Edison, Vineland and Atlantic City, all in New Jersey.
10. Database Administrator
No child grows up with aspirations of becoming a database administrator. The title itself sounds like jargon pulled from the script of “Office Space,” but the position is real and the pay generous, with the top 10 percent of database administrators earning nearly $121,000 in 2013.
Like the title suggests, database administrators administer, test and implement computer databases. They coordinate changes to those databases and implement security measures to safeguard them. The most profitable industries for these professionals include chemical and product manufacturing as well as securities and commodities.
Jobs that are perceived as boring get a bad rap in this day and age of passion over paycheck. But a six-figure salary is reason enough to reevaluate those negative assumptions and give these propositions a second look. Your future self, who will be enjoying a bulging retirement savings account, and your future financial planner will thank you.